Needed: Multiple conversations  

Posted by Denis Haack in ,

This afternoon I attended a superb lecture given as part of Mayo Clinic’s ongoing Spirituality/Medical Grand Rounds: “Acts of Faith: Interfaith Leadership at a Time of Global Religious Crisis.” The speaker was Eboo Patel, founder and director of the Interfaith Youth Core, based in Chicago.


Patel, a Muslim, argued that we are in a dangerous period of history where religious rivalry often ends in violence. He pointed out that the media tends to portray religion in terms of conflict, often ending in sectarian violence. This need not be, Patel said, the only narrative that is told. The Mayo Clinic, he said, in contrast demonstrates how people of multiple faiths or no faith can respect one another and can work together for the common good. This story needs to be told more widely since religious faith, globally, is not diminishing but is increasing.


During the Q&A following his lecture, Dr Patel was asked about evangelism and whether his vision of “proactive cooperation” among believers of various faiths conflicted with their mandate to proselytize. His answer was, I think, both personal and very wise.


Patel said he respected his friend’s faith commitment that included the mandate to pray for his salvation and to evangelize him. That conversation should occur, he said, but it shouldn’t be the only conversation that occurs. We also need, Patel said, to get to know one another; to listen and ask questions; to learn each other’s traditions, ideas, and beliefs; to respect one another; to learn from one another; and to work out how we can live and work together for the common good.


I like that way of putting it: evangelistic conversations should occur but they shouldn’t be the only conversations that occur.


I learned that from a Muslim, and am glad to say so here.


[Thanks to my good friend, David VanNorstrand for alerting me to the lecture.]

This entry was posted at Wednesday, May 27, 2009 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Post a Comment